Exploring our love for romance novels


Graphic by Julianne Cruz

Romance novels are extremely popular due to their versatility and being able to provide an easy escape from everyday life.

Heather Wang, Arts Writer

Despite the staggering number of people who openly profess hatred for romance novels, they maintain their status as one of the most popular genres. Far outshining any other book genre in terms of revenue, these books raise the question: what makes them so alluring to so many people?

Perhaps the most obvious reason is the lighthearted nature of many of these books. In their perfect world, the two protagonists fall head-over-heels in love and go on to lead lives where their beloved dogs live forever and no disaster ever strikes their white picket fenced home. If they encounter any problems, they are resolved quickly. 

Debbie Macomber, for example, is a #1 New York Times bestselling romance author who writes books with generally uplifting plots. Her novels, ranging from sweet love stories on the beach to conflicted romance in the Alaskan wilderness, have grown immensely in popularity amongst fans of romance. 

The blissfulness is contagious and leaves a pleasant feeling once the story concludes. Many readers of romance novels are not looking to understand the meaning of life or delve into the intricacies of societal problems–they want something that can provide simple, relaxing entertainment. For those purposes, these books are perfect.

 People also love romance novels that have an optimistic outlook on life because they make a near impossible ideal into reality for the book’s characters. Readers can get invested in the lives of characters from books and apply their situations to their own lives.

This is a reason why romance novels are so popular—according to psychologist Maryanne Fisher, readers love romance novels because they can “live vicariously through the [characters] without any of the consequence[s].” 

Often placed in difficult situations, most characters in romance novels eventually overcome their challenges and find a lover along the way. People use the fictitious narrative to prove to themselves that love can conquer all.

But romance novels that have nothing to do with normal human lives, instead taking place in mysterious and fantastical worlds, or do not perpetuate happy feelings, also exist and have a large fanbase. 

Referred to as “paranormal” or “dark romance,” these books include themes of love and relationships while also featuring supernatural elements such as werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. They also may explore more serious themes. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, with over 150 million copies sold, is an example of this subgenre.

At a glance, these books seem extremely different from the lighthearted romance of the stereotypical romance novel. They do still, however, appeal to human desire for emotional connection and love, a reason for their growing popularity in recent years.

Romance novels can be written for young adults, adults, history enthusiasts, mystery lovers, and overall a very wide range of readers. There is something out there for everyone.

An evader of romance novels may have to give it another go before giving up on this versatile genre. Most likely, they just haven’t found a romance novel that speaks to them.